Professor Jokin de Irala, known for outspoken views that homosexuality is a ‘curable disease’ and an ‘epidemic’, was forced to cancel a planned lecture on the subject in an international convention in Costa Rica.
Irala, a Spanish medical doctor, was due to speak on 7 March on the subject of ‘curing’ homosexuality, at the 5th Central American Congress of Bioethics that was held in Costa Rica.
The medic previously stated: ‘Today there are ex-gay groups and some people actually are reunited with their heterosexuality once a therapist managed cure the pain that caused homosexuality’.
His outspoken views on the subject, however, caused a furious controversy in the small Central American nation, which forced Irala to cancel his planned lecture.
The controversy was sparked off when Irala was invited to speak in Costa Rica on behalf of the country’s anti-gay commissioner for human rights.
Costa Rica’s Psychologists Association slammed Irala for his anti-gay views and warned that doctors who perform such therapies could face disciplinary proceedings.
The controversy increased after Costa Rica’s health ministry declared the congress of ‘public interest’, an action strongly criticized by human rights advocates, gay activists and even by the the country’s health watchdog.
The issue escalated to the Constitutional Court, which after an appeal decided to annul the ministry’s decree of public interest stating the government should not support a private activity that may represent discrimination against part of society.
The judges ruled that Irala’s planned lecture ‘reverts to a stigmatization of a sector of the population and potential harm to their health, in addition to the fact that its scientific basis is highly questionable’.
In an interview with the daily La Nacion, Irala complained that he is not used to ‘so much lack of respect by the media’ and that there court’s decision amounts to restricting ‘freedom of speech’ and that he feels ‘vulnerable’ due the widespread critique.
He said: ‘Whoever lives their homosexuality is free to do so, but must respect those who freely want to ask for help to be reunited with their heterosexuality’.
Irala gave his other three lectures, as planned, including one on the impact of contraceptive methods on public health, where he claimed that abstinence is the best preventative method against HIV infection.
Members of Costa Rica’s LGBT community rallied in Parque Merced in San Jose, the country’s capital, on the 7 March, demanding a public apology from the government for supporting the activity.
In response to Irala’s views, Boti Garcia Rodrigo, preseident of Spain’s FELGTB movement, stated: ‘What needs to be cured is homophobia, not homosexuality’.
Watch a report on the controversy of Irala’s visit (in Spanish):